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Black Flag

In many ways, Black Flag was the definitive Los Angeles hardcore punk band. Although their musicflirtedwithheavymetalandexperimentalnoise andjazz more than that of most hardcore bands, they defined the imageandtheaesthetic.Throughtheir ceaselesstouring, the bandcultivated the Americanunderground punk scene; every year,BlackFlag played ineveryarea of theU.S., influencingcountless numbers ofbands. Although their recording careerwashamperedby a draining lawsuit,which wasfollowed by aseemingly endlessstream of independentlyreleased records,the band wasunquestionably oneof themost influenti ...read more

In many ways, Black Flag was the definitive Los Angeles hardcore punk band. Although their musicflirtedwithheavymetalandexperimentalnoise andjazz more than that of most hardcore bands, they defined the imageandtheaesthetic.Throughtheir ceaselesstouring, the bandcultivated the Americanunderground punk scene; every year,BlackFlag played ineveryarea of theU.S., influencingcountless numbers ofbands. Although their recording careerwashamperedby a draining lawsuit,which wasfollowed by aseemingly endlessstream of independentlyreleased records,the band wasunquestionably oneof themost influential Americanpost-punkbands. A full decadeand a half before thefusionof punk andmetal became popular, BlackFlag created aferocious, edgy, and ironicamalgamofundergroundaesthetics and gut-poundingmetal.Their lyrics alluded tosocial criticism and a political viewpoint, butitwas allconveyed asseething,cynical angst,which was occasionallyveryfunny. Furthermore, Black Flag demonstratedan affection for bohemia -- bothintermsofmusicalexperimentation and afondness forpoetry -- that reiterated theband's underground roots and prevented it frombecomingnothingbutaheavymetal group. And it didn't matterwhowas in the band -- throughout the years, the lineupchanged numerous times -- becausetheBlack Flag nameand four-bar logo becamepunk institutions. Black Flag was formed in 1977 by guitarist Greg Ginn, a graduate of UCLA. Ginn formed the band withbassistChuckDukowski;thepairsoonaddeddrummer Brian Migdol and vocalist Keith Morris. At the same time, Ginn andDukowskiformedanindependent record label,SST,whichreleased the band'sfirst EP, Nervous Breakdown, in 1978. MorrisandMigdol departedthe following year-- Morris went on to formtheCircleJerks -- and they wererespectively replacedwithChavo Pederast andRobo. By the release of 1980's JealousAgain, Black Flaghadbegun totour the U.S.relentlessly,building up asmall, butdedicated, following of fans. After the release of Jealous Again,Pederast leftthegroupandwasreplaced by Dez Cadena.However, Cadenapreferred to play guitar, and his transition to that instrumentin1981gavethegroup a heaviersound; hisreplacement on vocals was Henry Rollins, aWashington, D.C., fan who jumped on-stageto singwiththe bandduring a NewYorkperformance. Early in 1981, Black Flag signed a record contract with Unicorn Records, a subsidiary of MCA. The band deliveredtheirfirstfull-lengthalbum,Damaged,to Unicorn; the label refused to release the record, citing the content of the musicastoodangerousandvulgar.Undaunted, Ginnreleased the album on hisown SST Records. Upon its release, thealbumreceivedconsiderable critical acclaim.Soonafterit appeared on theshelves, Unicorn sued Black Flag andSST overtherelease ofDamaged. For the next two years, the bandwaspreventedfrom using the nameBlack Flag or their logo onanyrecords.During thattime, the group continued to tour, andsurreptitiouslyreleasedEverything Went Black,adouble-albumretrospective that contained no mention of theband, although it listed thenames of themembers onthefront cover.Thedisputeended in 1983, when Unicorn went bankrupt and the rights to the BlackFlag name andlogorevertedback totheband(by this time, Cadena hadleft to form his own group). As if to make up for lost time, Black Flag became impossibly prolific when it returned to recording in 1984. A newversionofthe group --featuring Ginnon guitar and bass (the latter was credited to the pseudonym Dale Nixon),Rollins, anddrummer BillStevenson --recordedthealbums My War and FamilyMan. After those two albums wererecorded, the groupadded bassistKira Roessler and cut Slip It In,itsthirdofficialalbum of 1984. In addition tothosethree albums, Black Flagreleased thecassette-only Live '84 and the compilation TheFirstFourYears in1984, as well asreissuing EverythingWentBlack with all theproper credits restored. The group's touring and recordingpacedidn'tslowin 1985;they released threerecords: Loose Nut,TheProcess of Weeding Out, and In My Head. By the end oftheyear,AnthonyMartinezreplacedStevenson on drums. After Black Flag released the live album Who's Got the 10½? in early 1986, Greg Ginn broke up the band.Ginnrecordedtwoalbumswiththemoreexperimental Gone, but he primarily concentrated on running SST Records, whichhad become oneofthemostimportantAmericanindependent labels ofthe era. By the time Black Flag broke up, SSThad already releasedalbums bysuch bands asHüskerDü,theMinutemen, Meat Puppets, and Sonic Youth.For most ofthe late '80s, Ginn retiredfromperforming, choosing tooperateSSTRecordsinstead; during this time, the labelreleased the first recordingsfrom bandslikeSoundgarden, Dinosaur Jr., andScreamingTrees.Ginnreturned to musicin 1993, releasing a solo album on his newrecordlabel, Cruz. Following Black Flag's breakup, Henry Rollins formed the Rollins Band. For the rest of the '80s, he releasedmusicrecordedwiththeRollinsBandon avariety of independent labels, as well as solo spoken-word recordings. In the early'90s,Rollinsbecameone of themostrecognizablefigures of alternativemusic. « hide

Similar Bands: Minutemen, Dead Kennedys, Circle Jerks, Saccharine Trust

LPs
What The...
11/05/2013

1.2
222 Votes
In My Head
1985

3.4
260 Votes
Loose Nut
1985

3.2
254 Votes
Slip It In
1984

3.6
461 Votes
Family Man
1984

2.7
353 Votes
My War
1984

4
965 Votes
Damaged
1981

4.1
1,593 Votes
EPs
I Can See You
1989

2.7
44 Votes
Annihilate This Week
1987

2.6
33 Votes
The Process of Weeding Out
1985

3.4
86 Votes
TV Party
1982

3.6
78 Votes
Six Pack
1981

3.7
134 Votes
Jealous Again
1980

3.8
184 Votes
Nervous Breakdown
1978

4.3
514 Votes
Live Albums
Who's Got the 10 1/2?
1986

3.8
52 Votes
Live '84
1984

3.3
49 Votes
Compilations
The Complete 1982 Demos Plus More!
1996

3.8
39 Votes
Wasted... Again
1987

3.8
31 Votes
The First Four Years
1984

4.2
296 Votes
Everything Went Black
1982

4
120 Votes

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